April 21, 2014

NIELSENWAR: Weekly/Season Charts Plus Early Weekend Cable News


CBS had been riding high on the back of some special events like the NCAA Tournament and the How I Met Your Mother finale, but last week it crashed to earth, falling three-quarters of a ratings point from the previous week and into 2d place.  That left all the broadcast networks looking fairly dismal.  ABC was in the lead (all numbers represent 5 days of Same Day ratings + 2 days of overnights), helped by the Scandal season finale, up 0.01 to 1.48.  Then came CBS, down 0.75 to 1.40; NBC, down 0.01 to 1.38; FOX, down 0.22 to 1.23; and CW, up 0.19 after 2 weeks of mostly reruns to 0.52.

As usual at this late point in the season, there were only tiny changes in the season to date averages:

NBC:  2.42 (still riding the Winter Olympics to a 17% gain from last season, down 0.04 from last week)

FOX:  2.13 (almost all of its Super Bowl bump has dissipated to a mere 0.6% seasonal hike, down 0.03 from last week)

CBS:  1.91 (down 23% from last season, partly due to no Super Bowl, down 0.02 from last week)

ABC:  1.64 (down 9% from last season, down 0.01 from last week)

CW:   0.52 (down 0.8% from last season, steady with last week)

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ORPHAN BLACK returned on Saturday with numbers that were big for its mini-network BBCAmerica, doubling last season’s average to what should be an 0.3 in the demo.  (Its Season 1 numbers are somewhat skewed by a high-rated series premiere that aired after a huge Doctor Who lead-in, which more or less tripled the ratings the show had for the rest of its season.)  With 620K total viewers for the initial airing and 785K with reruns included, it also doubled that metric compared to all of last season except the premiere.  These numbers are still tiny compared to those elsewhere in cable (and in their heart of hearts, BBCA execs might have hoped for even more after all the off-season hype the show has received), but they certainly demonstrate a series moving in the right direction and building the network brand.  If the numbers hold next week, expect a quick Season 3 renewal.

WGN America’s inaugural original drama SALEM performed very solidly on Sunday, with what should be an 0.5 rating in the 18-49 demo for the intial airing, and 1.5M total viewers (the numbers go up to a probable 0.7/885K with re-airings.)  Comparisons with regular WGN programming are essentially meaningless, since anyone who can say what the network aired in that slot a week ago without looking it up probably works there, and the fact that WGN also airs only an east coast feed also doesn’t mean much, since Salem was re-aired in west coast primetime.  It is worth noting, though, that WGN is available in only two-thirds of US households.  If the Salem numbers hold up, the series should also find a Season 2 renewal under its tree very soon.

Over at HBO, both SILICON VALLEY and VEEP were renewed, for respective Seasons 2 and 4.  These were no-brainer decisions, since Silicon has done an excellent job with Game of Thrones as its lead-in, with 18-49 ratings at 1.0 or higher (no one in their right mind would expect anything following Game–which incidentally tied its all-time viewership on Sunday night, a mark it had set only 2 weeks earlier–to hold onto the majority of its viewers), and Veep, while more modestly rated, is widely-acclaimed and an Emmy favorite, accomplishments that mean even more for pay-TV than for advertiser-supported networks.  The renewals of Silicon and Veep, along with the returns of Girls and Looking, give HBO a stable comedy line-up, and will allow the network to concentrate on its drama ranks, which are about to be reduced with the upcoming departures of TRUE BLOOD, THE NEWSROOM and BOARDWALK EMPIRE.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."